Yay Abe

Getting Intimate with Yay Abe

It could be said that your online browsing history is the only indication of your true self: your habits, health concerns and obsessions. In an age where our public image, at least online, is a curated edit of the real thing, is there anything that could cause panic quicker than someone getting their eyeballs on your recent internet search history?

For an exercise in vulnerability and not taking yourself too seriously, one of the most exciting illustrators in town illustrated his recent internet searches so we can get to know him better in a bit of an unusual way.

When he isn’t searching memes, new music and hangover cures, Russell Abrahams is the Creative Director of Yay Abe, an illustration studio based in Cape Town that he started to up opportunities for illustrators of colour.

Yay Abe

Cash me Ousside: This was inspired by tracking down the Cash Me Ousside girl and finding her Instagram. She’s a whole mess but at the same time making stacks of cash.


How would you define your relationship with the internet? 

The internet is pretty much my saving grace. It really gave me the platform to showcase my work and to be able to tap into many resources. I probably wouldn’t have worked on half of the projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on if it wasn’t for the internet. I think a lot of people underestimate the power of sharing work online, which is sad.

Sidenote: The Internet is playing at the Cape Town Jazz Fest and I really want to go. Someone please take me with you.


What did you find out about yourself while looking into your search history?

There are a few very random things that I searched over the past week. I realised that I should probably renew my Apple Music account because I’m listening to too many Youtube playlists. Shoutouts to my data bundles. There were also a few searches that I’m 100% sure I did not search for. So this is a public service announcement to tell mans that I know they’re sneakily using my laptop.


What did you listen to when you were making this work? 

I played NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts. Do yourself a favour and listen to Anderson Paak’s session. Here’s a link to it because we all deserve to hear it.

Yay Abe

Is Smoking Really that Bad?: So, I’m not saying I’ve started smoking (sorry mom) but I was just a little curious one late evening. 😉


What makes you laugh? 

Please don’t kill me….but, I really enjoy a good pun. Other than that, if you have some dry humour, we are probably going to become great friends.


How does humour play a role in your work? 

Most of my work has a very playful tone to it. I think this comes from the need/urge to have fun while working. I believe that it’s pretty important to communicate a message in one’s illustrations, and making someone smile during the process is always a plus.


Do you feel there’s vulnerability in being a creative?

I think so. It all depends on how much of yourself you’re willing to pour out into your work. Maybe that’s the reason I didn’t end up producing fine art. I have so much respect for fine artists who create work that is vulnerable, leaving them open to the audience to interpret.

Yay Abe

Trendy Hairstyles 2017: I’ve been shaving my hair for a year now. It might be time to get a trendy haircut so that I can live my best Kloof St life. You guys, my locks might be coming back. 


What do you fear? 

I fear not being able to support my family and friends. In every sense of the word.


What are the things that drive you and your practice?

My family and friends. I really want to make them proud because everyone around me has done nothing but support me over the years. I also wake up every morning and make sure I’m working hard because as a person of colour it’s tough out here. Especially in this industry where there are not many illustrators of colour getting opportunities. Someone asked me the other day to name 10 black female illustrators and I stood there in shock. So yeah, we have a big problem that needs to be solved, soon!

Yay Abe

Best Hangover Cure: So, I had a rough Saturday night recently and needed to be up early the next morning. I remember desperately searching for hangover cures and discovering that Panados are pretty much the worst thing you can take. You can thank me now. 


What is Yay Abe all about? 

Yay Abe is my child. In its simplest form it’s a new illustration house based in Cape Town. To me, it’s a new and exciting venture that will hopefully allow more illustrators of colour the opportunity to work in the industry and create world class illustration. I want to assemble a small team of kick-ass illustrators and designers over the next year. That’s my goal for now.

We’re always focusing on creating work that not only feels authentic but work that is authentic. So yeah, Yay Abe’s the new kids on the block and we’re pretty damn excited about everything right now. This year is going to be huge for us. It’s going to be a lot of hard work but it’s also going to be super fun. 

For more, follow @yay_abe / @ohrussellabrahams on Instagram.

Yay Abe

Cheap Studio Rent: After starting Yay Abe, We’ve been looking for a small little studio for us to work out of. It’s been a pretty tough one but hopefully we’ll find a place to call home by June.